WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has issued a presidential permit to TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline, ending years of delay for a project that has served as a flashpoint in the national debate about climate change.

It’s a sharp reversal from the Obama administration, which rejected the pipeline after deeming it contrary to national interests.

The $8 billion 1,700-mile pipeline, as envisioned, would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. The pipeline would move roughly 800,000 barrels of oil per day, more than one-fifth of the oil Canada exports to the U.S.

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Oil industry advocates say the pipeline will improve U.S. energy security and create jobs, although how many is widely disputed. Calgary-based TransCanada has promised as many as 13,000 construction jobs – 6,500 a year over two years – but the State Department previously estimated a far smaller number. The pipeline’s opponents contend the jobs will be minimal and short-lived, and say the pipeline won’t help the U.S. with energy needs because the oil is destined for export.

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